If you think you are making a better choice for your kids by serving fruit juice instead of soda, you are only partially right. Drinks such as orange juice, apple juice and grape juice may offer more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients than soda, but they also contain a lot of fructose, high levels of which have been linked to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. In fact, a single glass of apple juice contains the fructose equivalent of six apples.
What’s more, juice contains more calories than soda: A cup of orange juice has 112 calories, apple juice has 114 and grape has 152. A same-sized serving of Coke or Pepsi has only about 100 calories.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, the small amount of positive health benefits gained from drinking juice are far outweighed by the negatives. But if fruit juices pose the same obesity and other health-related risks as soda, why haven’t we seen campaigns to remove them from schools like we have with sodas? Probably because parents view fruit juices as nutritious and therefore are less likely to set limits on the amount their children drink.
But even if parents aren’t setting limits, the American Academy of Pediatrics is. In 2001, the APA’s nutrition committee revised its policy regarding fruit juice, recommending that kids ages 1 to 6 drink no more than one 4 to 6 ounce service of juice a day. Older kids should have no more than two servings.
When it comes to fruit, experts say kids are better off skipping the juice and eating the fruit itself. Not only does this eliminate the high levels fructose, but eating a solid food rather than drinking a liquid gives the stomach a fuller feeling, which can help prevent over consumption.
Do you limit the amount of juice your kids drink?